News and STORIES

House Approves New Bill Aimed at Punishing Horse Doping

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Tuesday October 06, 2020

Horse racing's gut check moment?

The word integrity gets thrown around a lot in the world of pro sports, and leagues are always stepping up to strive towards that goal. For example, the NFL interpreted integrity as penalizing players for helmet to helmet hits in order to reduce the chance of concussions or CTE, while NASCAR instituted a high-speed laser tech inspection to make sure every car was on the same level.

For horseracing however, the term integrity has taken on several meanings over the last couple of months and has now centered on the topic of doping in horse racing. The United States House of representatives approved a bill earlier this week to create a set of safety standards in horse racing, which they hope will cut down on the use of doping.

The Horseracing integrity and safety act.

The Horseracing integrity and safety act passed the house of representatives this week and will now make its way to The United States senate, where it will go for a full vote. Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell has passed similar legislation in the past and has been somewhat of a champion when it comes to protecting horse racing, which means this bill might make it through with bi partisan support.

This news comes after California’s controversial limitations on hitting a horse with a crop during races and two years removed from many racehorses dying after racing at Santa Anita tracks. Whether fans of horse racing like it or not, the idea of integrity is once again coming into question with the implementation of these new doping rules.

Doping scandal shakes horse racing to its core in 2020.

Another thing that is making integrity come back into focus is the string of recent doping scandals that have kept horse racing in the news for all the wrong reasons. In fact, two dozen people were charge with various crimes in March after it was discovered that they were taking part in a doping ring to make their horses go faster.

One of these defendants was Jason Servis, who was the trainer that rode Maximum security to the line and almost won The Kentucky Derby in 2018. Unfortunately for both horse and rider, a block earlier in the race resulted in Maximum security getting disqualified and the win eventually going to Country house

Things only got worse from there though, as Servis was charged with giving performance enhancing drugs to Maximum security and several other horses in his stable. While some people might see this as just trying to gain an edge in the race or completely harmless, the doping has been known to cause a plethora of effects for the horse being drugged.

Effects and fallout of horse doping.

Believe it or not, drugging can lead to a horse overexerting itself during a race and even can cause more risk for injuries in some situations. The worst however is that the doping can cause a horse to go into cardiac arrest and die, which is why legislation like this will most likely result in lives being saved on the racetrack.

“Horse racing is experiencing the most profound crisis in the long history of the sport. Bob Baffert, who is the owner of Kentucky Derby winner, Authentic, said during an interview “To emerge stronger, we must act decisively to protect the horses who are the stars of the show, ″

In the end, horse racing isn’t just about winning untold amount of money, finishing first and having the horse everyone wants to gamble on. It’s about a bond between a human and their horse. A bond that the rider or owner shouldn’t take advantage of by cruelly trying to drug these gentle creatures and use them as vehicle for their own gains.